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EGM’s Best of 2011
Matthew Bennett’s Picks

By
Posted on December 23, 2011 AT 01:55pm

2011’s been a wallet- and time-draining year, with numerous hit titles releasing month after month. Of course, there’s been the obligatory Call of Duty supertanker blitzing sales records once again, but this year also saw a few surprises, such as Battlefield finally stepping up and making itself heard on a grand scale. This year’s gone to prove that the industry as a whole has taken a massive step forward, with the quality of games being higher than ever. That said, there’s also been a number of sequels flooding the market, which is a safer bet when it comes to quality but limits creativity. My list contains a few of the usual suspects, but not all of them. So, don’t go fretting—these weren’t easy choices.

Matthew’s Top 5 of 2011:

#1: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Game Studios
Many wondered how Bethesda could possibly top Oblivion, but they sure did. With a major graphics overhaul, improved story, addictive crafting, and new dual-wield combat, Skyrim contains hundreds of hours of gameplay no matter what your playstyle may be, making it my definitive Game of the Year.

#2: Battlefield 3

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: EA
Developer: DICE
In terms of graphics alone, this deserves to make the top five, but the game’s so much more thanks to its Frostbite 2 engine. Battlefield 3 features a ton of customization options, crazy destructibility, and well-balanced classes, but it’s the sheer level of enjoyment that guarantees a top game.

#3: Saints Row: The Third

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Volition
Saints Row offers something that can’t even be described as madness—it’s pure lunacy. Whatever you want to do in the world, you can. Can’t be bothered to run into a gang area? Then call in an airstrike and destroy the whole place! With tons of weapons, vehicles, and side missions you’re never short of things to do.

#4: L.A. Noire

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Developer: Team Bondi, Rockstar Leeds
L.A. Noire offered something a little different in a gaming world full of first-person shooters—something more refreshingly intellectual. Although the story was short and linear, it made you think outside the box. Arresting a suspect’s only the beginning; winning the battle of wits and seeking the truth was the real meat of this game.

#5: Dragon Age II

Formats: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Mac
Publisher: EA
Developer: BioWare
Many saw Dragon Age II as too linear, since its adventure was restricted to one area of Kirkwall. But this actually allowed the developers to create a rich, interesting world. Combine this with the well thought-out and developed characters, and you get one hell of an adventure that keeps you busy for hours.

Matthew’s Off-Topic Awards:

Craziest Detective: Cole Phelps (L.A. Noire)
Most police detectives are meticulous, thoughtful investigators. But L.A. Noire’s Cole Phelps was absolutely insane: He spent hours looking at cigarette packets and chewing-gum wrappers instead of the victims, and during his interrogations, doubting a suspect’s story apparently equated to accusing them of being a serial killer.

Most Improved Sequel: Gears of War 3
Gears of War 3’s major improvement comes from its online modes, which featured quicker matchmaking and better team balancing. Add to this the introduction of Horde 2.0, which got a complete tower-defense-style overhaul, and one of the best online experiences reclaimed its crown.

Biggest Surprise: Rift
Rift was an unexpected success in the MMO world, with many observers expecting the game to enjoy a few months of success before quietly fading away. Nine months later, the game’s still going strong and has stolen a fair chunk of WoW’s subscribers with its well-balanced classes and amazing graphical detail.

 

What do you guys think of Matthew’s picks? Let him know on Twitter (@mattyjb89) or drop in a comment below!

EGM’s Best of 2011 Coverage

EGM’s Top 25 Games of 2011
Part 1: #25 – #21
Part 2: #20 – #16
Part 3: #15 – #11
Part 4: #10 – #6
Part 5: #5 – #1

EGM Editor’s Choice Awards
Part 1: Eric L. Patterson
Part 2: Ray Carsillo
Part 3: Marc Camron
Part 4: Brandon Justice
Part 5: Matthew Bennett
Part 6: Andrew Fitch (Saturday, December 24th)
Part 7: Brady Fiechter (Sunday, December 25th)

Eric L. Patterson, Executive Editor
Eric L. Patterson got his start via self-publishing game-related fanzines in junior high, and now has one goal in life: making sure EGM has as much coverage of niche Japanese games as he can convince them to fit in. Eric’s also active in the gaming community on a personal level, being an outspoken voice on topics such as equality in gaming and consumer rights. Stalk him on Twitter: @pikoeri. Meet the rest of the crew.

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